“Revisiting The Parts and Pieces” - The Story of the first Private Parts & Pieces album retold by Alan Hewitt.
By the time Anthony had completed and released the Wise After The Event album in 1978 he had already begun to accumulate a considerable archive of acoustic and other material which had not been considered suitable for that album. Nor were these tracks considered for inclusion on the follow up to Wise After The Event; 1979’s Sides album as Anthony recalls…
"…It was an accident. It was not possible to get any acoustic music released at that time. Sides was being made and there was a lot more pressure to be more commercial. I made the compilation up largely because I was told by Tony Smith that Brian Eno had a label that was just starting which might put out instrumental music. So, the compilation was made up of just things that I had recorded throughout the 1970’s at home…”
Thankfully, despite the subsequent lack of interest by Eno’s label, Anthony was eventually able to find a home for this music on the Passport Records label in the USA, where Marty Scott had long championed Ant’s music, being the first to release any of his compositions with the Intergalactic Touring Band album and subsequently, all of Ant’s albums were to be issued on this imprint until its demise in 1988. In the UK, Arista who had released both Wise After The Event and Sides, did not take up the option on releasing the album as a separate entity and instead issued it as a bonus disc with the initial 5000 copies of Sides. The album appeared later as a commercial release in the USA on Passport and it was this album which became the standard version of the album available to fans until its eventual release on CD by Virgin and subsequently, Voiceprint Records in the early 1990’s.
Despite the album’s humble origins, the choice of music on it and the idea of putting together some of the better pieces that might not sit so easily on more commercially orientated projects, has subsequently become a staple of Anthony’s recorded catalogue and the series now extends to twelve volumes. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s go back to the situation as it was in 1979 and to Mr Phillips…
“The album did account for the best music that I recorded at home. Recording in those days was very different as you had to go to big outside studios if you wanted to record anything of any size. Home recording studios didn’t really stretch to doing anything with much scope or a great number of tracks to it. So, I just used to record acoustic guitar and piano pieces as well as the occasional simple song throughout the 1970’s….”
Intriguingly there were the first tentative glimpses of some of the music that Anthony had been working on with Mike Rutherford, both on what became The Geese & The Ghost, and also several which had began life while Anthony was still in Genesis, not least Field Of Eternity which had been written and on occasions performed at some of the earliest Genesis gigs although the version which Anthony recorded for the album was an extract from the original which he developed into a solo guitar piece. Other tracks had begun life in Anthony’s collaborations with Harry Williamson and Anthony recalls the development of some of these tracks…
“Tibetan Yak Music was from around the time we were doing some of the Tarka demos in early ’76; that was recorded with Harry Williamson. As I played he was changing all the graphic equalisation so the guitar goes through timbre shifts. That was virtually improvised. Harmonium In The Dust came from ’74 just before The Geese & The Ghost. Once again it was just a harmonium based piece. I didn’t have a synthesiser then so that was the only sustained sound available! The guitar piece called Reaper actually dates back to 1970, just after leaving the group…."
For an album with such an unlikely inception, Private Parts & Pieces has gone on to be come one of the most consistent sellers from Anthony’s back catalogue and fans were delighted when at the end of the 1980’s, Virgin Records managed to acquire the rights to Ant’s back catalogue from the now bankrupt Passport Records and finally got round to releasing them on the Compact Disc Format which also enabled fans to hear yet more music from this formative period as the disc contained two extra tracks including the elusive Silver Song which Genesis fans had know about for many years. Anthony recalls both of these tracks…
“With Silver Song, I did a number of versions of that track over the years. There was an attempted single version done under the auspices of Arista which was done during an all-night session with Rupert Hine, John Perry and Trevor Morais. The strange thing with that track is that often the punters like it but the musicians don’t. The only result of that session was wasting the record company’s money! Every time a project came up it was a case of trying to get Silver Song in there somewhere - bits even ended up in Alice! The version included on the CD comes form a period where a number of us were trying to write some songs for an Eric Clapton album which Phil Collins was producing. So, I had a go at making it slightly countrified so that’s why the version is like it is. That must have been version 47b! (laughs). Stranger was a new recording as the original had too many mistakes. It may well be the best version of that was the one from 1970 that was lost along with those original tapes. Stranger dates back to 1969. Genesis used to do it and the others called it Strangler as couldn’t make the high notes in the middle section. One of the early Genesis tapes which we recorded with Alec Reid (producer of the BBC Night Ride session) had a version of that on it played by the band….”
Many more of these tracks, believed lost have subsequently been found thanks
in no small part to the diligence of Anthony’s archivist; Jonathan Dann
and have since found homes on the Archive Collection albums but that my dear
readers; is another story!
Interview extracts are taken from the interview with Anthony published in issue 6 of The Pavilion Magazine.